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Friday, July 29, 2011

Amazing Original Work by the Stars of Tomorrow

What happens when you put 17 teenagers together for a week and a half of long hours, intense classes in drama, movement, voice, and then throw in some history and let them be creative? A GREAT scenes program, including an original opera they wrote themselves!

Wednesday evening, patrons in Colorado Springs saw the premiere of Penrose: A Colorado Legacy and Other Tales of Love. This evening of opera, theatre scenes by Sam Shephard and a few musical theatre pieces, is the culmination of 11 days of hard work by the talented teenagers of our Summer Performing Arts Intensive. This is the 9th year that Central City Opera has collaborated with the Colorado Springs Conservatory, and as the Education & Community Programs Department Stage Manager, I've been privileged to be a part of this awesome experience for six of those years.

For the first week and a half, the students live in residence in Colorado Springs with instructors assisting them in all aspects of performance. They also spend time researching a topic; this year focuses on Colorado philanthropists Julie and Spencer Penrose. The students researched the couples' lives, visiting the Pioneer Museum, El Pomar, the Carriage Museum and the Shrine of the Sun, and even met a friend of Julie's for some insider anecdotes. With the help of composer Roger Ames and librettist Jeff Gilden, the teenagers combined all they've learned, took liberties with their own new characters and a bit of the chronology, ultimately creating an opera that we believe Julie and Spencer would agree honors the spirit of their lives and legacies.

Oh, wait! Did I mention they also work on opera and theatre scenes too? Wednesday evening began with a love-themed scenes program including musical theatre (Candide and Wicked), opera (including La Boheme, The Coronation of Poppea, The Merry Widow, The Bartered Bride, Carmen and four of Mozart's operas) and dialogue from Sam Shepard's Savage/Love.

For me, one of the most touching moments was a duet (later turning into an ensemble piece) from Wicked. I know the history of many of these kids and certainly how quickly they become close friends during this short time. You could see the love and joy in all of their eyes as they sang, "Because I knew you, I have been changed for good."

The world premiere of their brand-new Penrose opera followed. It included fun numbers like a "Boys Being Boys" song about Spencer's bachelor life followed by the girls trying to gain the rich bachelor's attention. There's also a charming "I'm the Greatest" type song sung by Spencer, and the opera ends with a touching piece about the Penrose's true legacy, having touched so many people's lives in Colorado and beyond.

The Intensive continues through this weekend with the students in residence in Central City through Sunday. They will attend all five main stage operas, observe classes of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program and also receive their own master classes in movement, stage combat and vocal work with Festival company members. In the short time in between, they'll finesse their scenes program. There will be two public performances of their work in Williams Stables (across from the Opera House). For just $5 you can enjoy the AMAZING scenes program these students have prepared during this Performing Arts Intensive: on Saturday July 30th at 2:30 PM and Sunday July 31st at 10:00 AM. Please join us! Tickets are available online.

Auditions for the Performing Arts Intensive are generally in the Fall. For more information, visit our Performing Arts Intensive page or contact the Colorado Springs Conservatory at (719) 577-4556.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

TOMORROW: The Nina Odescalchi Kelly Family Matinee Performance of Bizet’s CARMEN

For many, opera is an unexplored art form; a virtual unknown which when mentioned might raise imagery of many varied stereotypes. But as we've focused on with our marketing campaign this year, Central City Opera is an experience that's accessible and enjoyable, with offerings for all ages and tastes.

For children, a first opera can be a life-changing experience. In the historic 550-seat opera house in Central City, a child’s proximity to the story can have a powerful impact; moreover, it’s like live-action television where you can’t take your eyes off of it. Central City Opera's upcoming Family Matinee performances feature the talented artists of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program in fully staged productions which include a narrator’s preview before each act and an autograph session with the singers following the performance.
2010 Family Matinee autograph sessions from MADAMA BUTTERFLY (above) and ORPHEUS IN THE UNDERWORLD (below). Photos by Mark Kiryluk.

What better story than Carmen than to introduce your child to the world of opera? Full of emotion, there is plenty of action mixed with a powerful and memorable musical score. So don’t miss this opportunity to introduce your child, or yourself, to opera at tomorrow’s matinee. Tickets are just $15 for kids 6-18, and $20 for adults.

A second family matinee performance, Amadigi di Gaula, takes place on August 4th. All kids are welcome to dress up in a magical wizard or prince/princess costume to be eligible to win prizes from The Wizard's Chest. Be sure not to miss their wizard and magic show at 2:00 pm in the Opera House Garden before the matinee. Mention Central City Opera and get 25% off of a costume at The Wizard's Chest. For an extra $10, attend Take a Child to the Opera at 1:00 pm, which includes pre-performance family fun activities, theatre games, and a post-opera talkback.

Purchase tickets to either of these events online, by calling (303) 292-6700 or stopping by our Central City Box Office, located in the historic Teller House on the main level (open two hours before each performance only).

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dynamic Dining Offerings at Central City’s Historic Teller House

Today, I had lunch with an acquaintance.
She didn’t say much, but she sure has a story…

Her name is Madeline…so the story goes. The Face on the Barroom Floor is a regular stop for tourists and opera patrons alike. Though unsigned, the painting is a mysterious treasure within the Teller House that is credited to Denver artist Herndon Davis. Inspired by Hugh Antoine D’Arcy’s poem The Face on the Barroom Floor, the painting remains a central component of Kevin Taylor’s The Face Bar.

Read the poem and more about the history of the famous “Face on the Barroom Floor.”
You too, can dine with the famous face during your time in Central City. Check out the menu for all of the delicious options. While there, be sure to take a good look at The Muses of Central City; eight murals painted on the walls of The Face Bar by Charles St. George Stanley in the late 1800s. Two more have since been added by Paschal Quackenbush, who restored the originals in 1932 when they were discovered under several layers of wallpaper. Even more interestingly, each of the murals was painted with a significant “distortion.” (Hint: The sixth mural from the right has two left feet!) Can you determine what the rest are? Find the answers here.

Also available for dining is the “modern mountain chophouse” Rouge, located upstairs in the Teller House. With lush décor and an outstanding menu, this is sure to please your appetite before the performance. Check out this recent article in The Deal about Kevin Taylor's dining offerings. Rouge is open for dinner and the Face Bar serves lunch and dinner. Call (303) 582-0600 for reservations.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Five GREAT Things to do in Central City

I can attest to the fact that there is much to do in Central City. With Central City Days approaching, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite Central City attractions that highlight the arts, culture, shopping and outdoors:

1. Gilpin Historical Society
228 High Street; Washington Hall on Eureka Street
History buffs, this one is for you. Loaded with information about the “Richest Square Mile on Earth,” stop by to chat with the friendly staff about Central City’s days as a historical mining town. Guided tours of the Central City Opera properties are a must, available Tuesday through Sunday at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm (availability based around opera schedule). The High Street History Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm.

2. Central City KOA “Kampground”
605 Lake Gulch Road
Just three minutes from downtown Central City is a KOA campground with a beautiful view. Make your trip to Central City a “staycation” by staying in an unconventional way! The KOA offers free wi-fi, free cable TV, large and level concrete pads, shady tent sites and modern facilities, and much more. Visit their website or call (303) 582-3043 for more information!

3. Mountain Menagerie and Bevie Sue’s Emporium
121 Main Street and 115 Main Street
Situated side-by-side on the historic Main Street, these charming boutiques offer a wide range of consignment and original offerings. Ranging from Central City apparel to antiques to handmade home décor, there is sure to be something here for everyone. Mountain Menagerie can be reached at (303) 582-5365 and Bevie Sue’s can be reached at (303) 582-5524.

4. Victorian Rose Antiques and Hotel
101 Main Street
Filled with treasures from years ago, there’s a ton to see in this antique shop! I spent a recent afternoon getting lost in several rooms of unique vintage items. For more information call Jay at (303) 988-7373. Above the antiques, the hotel is “a quaint historic piece of the ‘ol West’.” With eight historic and unique rooms to choose from, this is certainly a piece of Central City history. Rooms start at $79 plus tax, call Greg at (720) 427-2626.

5. Gilpin County Arts Association
117 Eureka Street
Located in historic Washington Hall, across from the Opera House, the Gallery features two exhibitions this season. A Juried Show runs from June 4th to August 25th, and a Members Show will be held on weekends from August 29th to October 1st. The building includes a jail (museum) and outdoor fountain garden. Five rustic rooms display 3,800 sq. ft. of art from over 100 artists throughout the Rocky Mountain region. Thick stone walls, hardwood floors and unusual sculptures donated to the gallery are of particular interest. Visit their website.

I hope this will encourage you to make the most out of your next trip to Central City. Check our calendar and get your tickets to the opera to maximize your experience. You won’t know until you go!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Final Three Weeks of 2011 Festival Consistent as a Colorado Rainstorm

I can’t say I wasn’t fairly warned. Before I moved here, one of the attributes of Colorado of which I was made aware was the fact that, starting around July, one can expect a daily rainstorm. Though these cloudbursts don’t last long, they have been consistent now for almost three weeks. Rolling in quickly and at different times of the day, these storms offer a different but consistent daily experience.

When recently caught in a downpour without my umbrella, I couldn’t help but realize the parallel between the Colorado climate and the 2011 Festival at Central City Opera. Over the next three weeks, the opera will present a shower of offerings on a consistent basis, as main stage performances and Fringe Festival events take place six days a week now through August 7th.

Ranging from the Chamber Music Series to the Nina Odescalchi Kelly Family Matinees, the next few weeks at Central City Opera are busier than ever. Check out our calendar for details on all of our offerings.

Before you leave home, you can check the current and predicted weather conditions for Central City in our Visitor Information webpages.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It’s the universal back-to-school essay topic: “What I Did on My Summer Break.”

It’s the universal back-to-school essay topic: “What I Did on My Summer Break.” What did you write about? In 1976 I wrote about America’s birthday and the most exciting 4th of July of my seven years. I remember this because the experience was so real and multi-dimensional (it seemed the entire summer was red, white and blue – every party, every picnic, every place and thing a declaration of independence and bicentennial celebration) that it actually gave me clarity and context for my place in the world – not a small thing for a soon-to-be 1st-grader. Truly. Cracking a history book was never the same after that summer.

Fast-forwarding a few decades, I’m now a 21st-century parent watching my children’s summer fly by. We’re well-meaning, awfully silly creatures, we modern parents. I’ve seen so many friends spend many a sleepless spring thinking up all kinds of ways to keep their school-age kids engaged and challenged and happy all summer. How about Lego Engineering Camp? (“Build an entire city!”) Archaeology Camp? (“Dig up an ancient civilization!”) Mathletes? (“Keep sharp over the summer!”) Ok, I am that parent. (And I’m not knocking engineering camp – it was really fun!) But the question is, what can I give them that’s really meaningful this summer?

Studies show that the average American household enjoys 40 to 60 hours of television a week. There are plenty of kids who can play to level gazillion on any number of video games or re-program a computer. My seven year-old recently showed me how to use CTRL+ALT+DEL to best advantage, but can she tell me how Colorado came to be? Who discovered and mined the gold, entertained the people, designed and built the places that makes ours a great, historic state? What if she could, and what if she learned something about herself in the process?

There’s a gift waiting for us this summer in an enchanting place that’s 45 minutes west of Denver, but a million miles away. A most imaginative, unplugged family experience awaits at Central City Opera’s historic adventure weekend, Central City Days. This is a call-out to the modern-minded parent and those wondering how a family of four can get the most bang for the least bucks. An experience that will make the kind of childhood mark that’s hard to come by these days.

Central City Days will celebrate Colorado Day by unfurling the roots of the place and digging deep into her past. On July 30th and 31st, come for a day or weekend of outdoor adventuring on foot and on bike through 19th-century streets, stables and gold mines, geocaching history hunts, ghost town touring and a little taste of family-friendly opera. Together we’ll unlock the secrets of Colorado’s story – and our own – for a weekend that will beat any virtual thrill your television can deliver.

And we hope to be on the tip of many a No. 2 pencil come September.

A multitude of all-access pass options allow you to custom-craft your adventure:
Two - Day Pass $25 adults / $15 kids* / $75 family 4-pack**
One - Day Pass $15 adults / $10 kids* / $45 family 4-pack**
Saturday or Sunday       VIP Pass $25 per day / includes access to all daily events plus 4 - 6 p.m. beer/wine/mead tasting receptions at historic al fresco venues with live music accompaniment (21 and older)

RSVP and Buy tickets for Central City Days*Valid for kids ages 4-12; children 3 and under are free.
**Family 4-packs not available online.  Please call the Box Office at 303-292-6700.

View the complete list of events.

Editor's Note: This blog post was written by Heather Lauren Quiroga, Event Planner for Central City Opera's Central City Days.

Monday, July 18, 2011

SinFest: A Devilish-ly Fun Time!

How many Deadly Sins are there?
Festival Staffers Kathryn Gucik (Events) and Jake Sinatra (Public Relations) know the answer - SEVEN!
This year Central City Opera gives you the chance to indulge in all Seven Deadly Sins...and try a new eighth one as well.  Saturday, we had our first SinFest - a progressively sinful experience starting with The Seven Deadly Sins in the Central City Opera House. After enjoying the one-act opera by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht, our "sinners" headed across the street to Williams Stables. The upper level of this historic building, rarely seen by the public, had been transformed into a cabaret-style performance space for the evening. An exhibit by MCA co-founder and renowned Colorado photographer Mark Sink and other depictions of the Seven Deadly Sins completed the atmosphere.
We began the post-opera portion of entertainment with fire dancer Melinda Rivers. The rain had forced her act inside, but she was aptly prepared with additional routines using LED lights, hoops and swirling fan scarfs to the delight of the audience.
Next up, Ballet Nouveau Colorado presented their brand spanking new piece DiSINtegration, a world-premiere ballet created by BNC Artistic Director Garrett Ammon for SinFest.
In the continuing idea of bringing something a little "different" to Central City Opera, some of our patrons got their first taste of slam poetry by National Poetry Slam Champion Ken Arkind and Lucifury. As we stated in a previous blog post, "This is not your grandma's opera!" This edgy and evocative imagery is not for the faint of heart...but is incredibly fun!
Lucifury with his devilish grin as he introduces a very steamy poem
We ended our time in Williams Stables with mixing and mingling while viewing Mark Sink's photography exhibit.

The rain cleared as we headed outside where we watched Melinda truly "in her element."
We next headed up the hill to the Lanny and Sharon Martin Foundry Rehearsal Center. If you looked carefully, you could still see spike tape on the floor marking out the placement of walls and platforms for opera rehearsals, but I may have been the only one who noticed. Our partygoers were much more focused on their 7 Deadly Zins wine, Kevin Taylor food and the entertaining music of bassist Mike Fitzmaurice (of the well-known Irish band Colcannon) and his Exuberant Ensemble. Among other tunes, they included "My Ship," a jazz standard written by the evening's composer Kurt Weill.
Around 8:00 pm, with the skies clearing once more just in time for our walk downhill, we made our way to Dostal Alley Brewpub and Casino. As the crowd watched from the back balcony, Melinda performed one more set of fire dancing. With the sun beginning to set, her fire breathing was particularly spectacular.
We rounded out the evening with "The 8th Sin," a brew specially created by Dostal Alley (the only brewery in Gilpin County). I'm not one to immediately order a dark beer, but I have to admit this one is decadently smooth. I plan to enjoy another one next weekend!
"The 8th Sin" is on tap at Dostal Alley.
Won't you join me in raising a glass? Our second and final installment of SinFest occurs this Sunday the 24th. Check in at the Teller House (just downhill from the Opera House) around 3:30 pm for your wristband, where you will also receive location information on the geocaches we've hidden around town. Find them throughout the evening and you can claim one of many prizes. Your indulgences begin at 4:00 pm with The Seven Deadly Sins in the Opera House. Tickets are just $50 to enjoy the opera and all, EIGHT sins. (If you already have your ticket to the opera, you can add on the SinFest option for just $25; call the Box Office at 303-292-6700.)

For more information on the SinFest performers, check our our previous blogpost.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions

Before May 2011, I had never traveled west of St. Louis. Now a three-month resident of Central City, I can look back on my move “out West” as a time full of equal amounts of excitement and apprehension. Hearing about the secluded City of Central, I admit that having never spent time in Colorado allowed for a substantial number of questions to flood my mind as I packed for the move.

Though I traveled over 1,500 miles to get to Central City, I’ve realized that some people might have the same questions as I do that might inhibit them from making the trip “up the hill.” In order to dispel any outstanding myths about Central City Opera, I’ve composed this list of Frequently Asked Questions that plagued me before I made my first trip to Central (and a few heard from others since I've arrived):

Question: Where is Central City and what is the best way to get there?

Answer: Central City is located less than an hour from Denver or Boulder, one mile up the hill from Black Hawk. From I-70 West, the Central City Parkway (Exit 243) provides a clear and scenic 8.4 mile drive directly to Central City. If you’d prefer to leave the driving to someone else, check our directions page for a number of solutions. Also, Central City Opera offers bus transportation for just $18 round-trip from Glendale or Lakewood (select performances). Check out all of the affordable options.
Question: What is the duration of the opera performances?

Answer: For many opera newcomers, a typical assumption is that operas are lengthy. To dispel this myth completely, Central City Opera is offering a triple bill of one-act operas this summer, the shortest of which is 34 minutes. Performance times vary; for those who want a little more, the longest runs just under three hours--similar to the length of the feature films Avatar and Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon. All multiple-act performances feature an intermission, lasting a convenient twenty minutes. The show pages on our website list the run times for individual operas. Our Fringe Festival also offers Short Works and Signor Deluso, which are half-hour long performances by our Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists.

Question: How can people sit through a performance in those hickory chairs?

Answer: The historic hickory chairs pictured in several photos of the Opera House were replaced in 1999 with plush new theatre-style seating. In use since 1903, the hickory chairs were originally engraved with pioneer family names for a fundraiser in the 1930s. Today, some remain (thankfully on display only) in rehearsal spaces and other opera properties.
After new seats were installed in the Opera House, many of the old hickory chairs, with pioneer names inscribed on the backs, were moved to Willams Stables, where they are stored hanging from the ceiling.

Question: Hasn’t Central City lost all of its charm since the casinos opened?

Answer: Though this one is a matter of opinion, in my experience (as I didn’t know Central City pre-casinos) Central City is a quaint and historic place with plenty of tradition. Several antique shops, a brewery and other stores still line the historic streets. And as for Central City Opera, our historic preservation has allowed for a pleasant opportunity to “step back in time.”

Interior of the Opera House. Photo by Mark Kiryluk.
What questions are holding you back from making your way up to Central City for the 2011 Festival? Performances run through August 7. Use the comments below to add to the list of “Frequently Asked Questions.” I’d be glad to answer to the best of my ability!

Directions, current weather conditions, lodging and dining options and area activities can be found on our Visitor Information pages.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Another First for Central City Opera: CARMEN in Denver

Most people reasonably expect to have a number of their favorite items delivered to them these days: a pizza, a bouquet of flowers, even online purchases. For the first time, on Tuesday of this week, Central City Opera took “delivery” to a whole new level—by bringing Carmen to Denver. With months of planning and a day of rehearsal at the Comfort Dental Amphitheater (formerly Fiddler’s Green), a semi-staged version of Carmen came to life at 7:30 PM on Tuesday, just as some light showers conveniently ceased.
Above and Below: Photos from the midday rehearsal, courtesy of Karen Federing
The "Tooth" from Comfort Dental Amphitheatre
greets patrons, with his Carmen program in hand.
With about 3,000 in attendance, this unique venture offered an opportunity for Denver locals to have a taste of Central City Opera right in their own backyard. Some attendees with whom I spoke with had never been to Central City Opera before, others were “regulars,” eager to have a chance to see their favorite opera company from a new perspective. Regardless of their experience, conductor Timothy Myers made everyone feel welcome and excited about Carmen and its intriguing story. Limited dialogue and conversational commentary made for a fast-paced and entertaining evening.

CBS4 Denver aired a short promotional piece on the evening and Central City Opera’s other 2011 Festival offerings. Check out the video online.

Kirstin Chávez (Carmen) and conductor Timothy Myers during the Denver performance
The evening was unfortunately cut short due to unsafe weather conditions which developed quickly during the intermission. If you're waiting to see how Carmen ends, don’t despair! Carmen plays in repertory with Central City Opera’s four other productions: Amadigi di Gaula, Gianni Schicchi, The Seven Deadly Sins, and The Breasts of Tiresias through August 7th. Get your tickets online or by calling (303) 292-6700, as soon as possible. Several other Fringe Festival events are offered each week as well, with something to please every operatic palate.

All evening photos courtesy of Erin Joy Swank.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What does CARMEN have in common with a bunch of Frontier women?

Deborah Morrow
[Editor's Note: Central City Opera's Director of Education & Community Programs Deborah Morrow writes this blog post about the Build an Opera professional development workshop taking place in Colorado Springs this week.]

What does Carmen have in common with a bunch of Frontier women? More than you might think!

The stage of the Harrison High School auditorium in Colorado Springs has been transformed into a classroom/music room/mini-theatre for five days as 14 Colorado teachers embark on an in-depth study of Carmen - the story, the music, the dramatic structure and characters - as a model for the opera they are also creating together. The story they have chosen to opera-tize (after considering numerous ideas) is based on a true account of a group of women who traveled the Oregon Trail together after all of the men in their party died. (If you didn't know it was a true story, you might assume it was a feminist fantasy - somewhat appropriate since all but two of the workshop participants are women.)

What's the point, you might ask? This is professional development for educators to add some exciting methods to their "teaching tool kits" for enhancing the curriculum they regularly teach. Six of them have taken this workshop previously (Central City Opera has offered it every summer for 12 years), two for the THIRD time. Multiple disciplines and grades are represented – elementary music, second and fourth grades, middle school music (instrumental and vocal), middle school language and drama, a student working on her education degree, and even two retired elementary music teachers, one taking credits for re-certification and another starting a private music school in her small town. Many participants will take advantage of the three graduate credits offered for completing the workshop, to use toward their teacher certification or higher degree.

The five-day workshop, led by two experts from the Opera America service organization, includes two components, Listen and Discover and Create and Produce. Dr. Kay Hoke, a college educator and musicologist who now heads the Sunderman Conservatory at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, leads the Listen and Discover exploration of Carmen. Roger Ames, an educator, composer (of songs, oratorios, musicals and opera, including Central City Opera's bilingual opera En Mis Palabras) and choral director/composer-in-residence at Great Neck High School in New York, guides the group in the creation of a short original opera. Kay and Roger have been leading these workshops all over the U.S. for over 15 years and Roger is one of the original creators of the curriculum (dubbed Music! Words! Opera!). This hands-on approach will model methods that the participants can later use with their students in exactly the same process.

This may sound pretty serious, but in reality this workshop is tons of fun. Trust and character-building exercises and theater games, plus watching and learning the glorious music of Carmen, stimulate the creative juices (and apparently the laughter "hot button"). Laughter and smiles are constants, even when discussing serious moments in Carmen or the deaths of all those men in the Frontier story. The ideas fly thick and fast as the teachers get down to creating the scenes in their story. Once the important scenes are set, the writing (of both lyrics and music) begins. Now the hilarity is almost constant as rhyme schemes and key words and melodies begin to emerge. "What rhymes with cholera?" "I don't think I can compose music, can my song be a rap?" (No.) "Can some of the lyrics be limericks?" "I really want a scene with Indians," shouted down immediately and now a running joke.
Above and Below: Participants in this year's Build an Opera professional development play theatre games to get their creative juices flowing. Photo credit: Deborah Morrow

This process of creating and producing an original musical work is great for developing 21st century skills in students – communication, collaboration, creative thinking. The learning really explodes, and time and again we've seen students blossom when they discover the depths of their own talents. Central City Opera provides teaching artists to assist teachers and their students in this endeavor and the results are always gratifying and astounding!

It's only Wednesday of our 5-day process as I write this, so Carmen hasn't died yet (we're on Act III), and the Frontier opera is as yet unnamed and just beginning to shape up. By Friday there will be an opera to perform for each other. It probably won't be ready to submit to the Met, but you can bet the group (now friends for life) will take pride in its accomplishment (and laugh like crazy people) as those brave women sing their way across the West.

Composer Roger Ames will remain in residence with Central City Opera for two more weeks, assisting the teenagers of our Summer Performing Arts Intensive. The public can view public performances of their theatre scenes and the student-created opera on July 30 at 2:30 pm and July 31 at 10:00 am for just $5.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fringe Festival’s SIGNOR DELUSO Opens Today!

One of Central City Opera's numerous Fringe Festival events taking place during the 2011 Festival is the 30-minute comic opera Signor Deluso by Thomas Pasatieri. Opening today and being performed in the intimate Williams Stables on Eureka Street on select dates through August 2, this short performance is sure to be a fulfilling addition to any Central City Opera experience.

A view inside Williams Stables
The seasoned eye of stage director John Moriarty, Central City Opera’s Artistic Director Emeritus, adds distinction to this one-act work. Signor Deluso features the talents of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Program.

“Through a structured plot with little exposition, this hilarious tale of two lovers is told effectively through an action-packed, romantic comedy opera,” says Bronwyn Schlaefer, Stage Manager of Signor Deluso. Bronwyn also serves as a 2011 Festival Staffer and as a Stage Management Assistant for Central City Opera’s North American Premiere of Händel’s Amadigi di Gaula this summer. Also assisting in the production of Signor Deluso are Assistant Stage Manager Samantha Apgar, Lighting Designer Nick Davidson, Props Supervisor Jessic Rosenlieb and Costume SupervisorJanetta Turner.

Signor Deluso is performed on July 13, 17, 23, 27, 29 and August 2 at 1:15 pm. Get your tickets online or by calling (303) 292-6700. This is a Fringe Festival event that you certainly won’t want to miss!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Melodious Musings on the Orchestra: AMADIGI DI GAULA and Sundays at St. James

Whenever I get the opportunity to actually sit and watch one of our operas, I love to sit in the balcony.  With only 550 seats in the Opera House, there really isn't a "bad" seat anywhere; however, up in the balcony you get a nice overview angle of the stage, an easy perspective to read the supertitles (English translations above the stage), and a fun view of the Central City Opera Orchestra in the pit below the stage.

A Theorbo
Image from
This year's production of Amadigi di Gaula has an instrument (well, two, actually) that can be seen from nearly every seat, whether you're in the balcony or not.  That long-necked stringed instrument you see sticking up at the edge of the stage for this Baroque opera is a theorbo. We actually have two of them in the orchestra for this Händel opera, played brilliantly by guest artists Madeleine Owen and Matthew Wadsworth. According to, the theorbo is a type of lute which was developed in Florence during the 1580s, is around two meters in length, and typically has 14 courses of strings.

If you watch the musicians during Amadigi di Gaula (the orchestral music is so beautiful, you can't help but try to see who's producing it, in my opinion), you'll notice several things. First, Matthew can sometimes be seen flipping through a book of what appear to be blank pages. Matthew is blind and has memorized his music (but can review it with his Braille score). There are even a few times where his is the first instrument to play a piece; during these moments, he listens closely for conductor Matthew Halls' breath as the cue to begin. Second, Madeleine can be seen switching occasionally to another Baroque instrument, the Baroque Guitar. In fact, several of the musicians switch instruments during this opera, as two recorders are used in this production. Yes, those fine instruments that play "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" in elementary music programs are used to wonderful delight in this classical piece. From the balcony, you can see the musicians subtly play their own game of literal "musical chairs" between numbers, as Brian Cook and Sarah Bierhaus sit together when playing the recorder and then return to their original seats in the viola and oboe sections. Jeffrey Stephenson also spends a moment featured at the side of the orchestra for his beautiful oboe solo. Rounding out our guests artists for Amadigi di Gaula are harpsichordist Patrick T. Jones (who also prepared the music for this production) and Baroque cellist Kate Haynes.

St. James Methodist Church,
across the street from the Opera House
All said, the sounds coming from our Central City Opera Orchestra are simply exquisite. This year, we're featuring the instrumentalists in one of our Fringe Festival events, the Sundays at St. James chamber music series. This Sunday, July 17th, the series kicks off with a wonderful evening featuring a Poulenc clarinet sonata, a Dvořák piano quartet and vocal music by main stage artist Robert Gardner (baritone), who is performing in this summer’s productions of The Seven Deadly Sins and The Breasts of Tiresias.

The following Sunday, July 24th, the series continues with world-renowned conductor Matthew Halls, the guest instrumentalists (mentioned above) and principal vocal artists from this summer's Amadigi di Gaula performing the music of Henry Purcell. The final performance on July 31st features the male classical vocal quartet New York Polyphony in concert; two of the members -- baritone Christopher Dylan Herbert and bass Craig Phillips -- were participants in Central City Opera's Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program.
Christopher Dylan Hebert as Papageno in a scene from The Magic Flute
(Central City Opera's Opera A La Carte, 2006)

Christopher was also featured in Martha Stewart Weddings for his recent marriage to partner Timothy Long. In addition to being incredibly photogenic, Christopher also happens to be the nephew of the crafty guru.
Image from Martha Stewart Weddings
All Sundays at St. James performances take place in the historic St. James Methodist Church, possibly the oldest church in Colorado. Tickets are $32 each (available online) or you can enjoy all three evenings of chamber music for just $68 (packages available through the Box Office at 303-292-6700).

Watch (and listen to) video clips of Central City Opera's Amadigi di Gaula 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sizzle at SinFest: Opera. Cocktails. Sin.

[Editor's Note: This blog post comes from Heather Brecl, Central City Opera's Young Professional Project Manager.]

"Festivalization of the festival" is one of Central City Opera's innovative moves to make your experience in Central something to remember! If you headed to the Triple Bill for Opening Night this past Saturday, you may have peeked out the window of the Face Bar and done a double-take. Was that really a copper cowboy statue strumming his guitar down Eureka Street? Indeed, it's one of the first glimpses of the Fringe Festival, special added surprises to spice up your trip to the Opera. Keep your eyes peeled for what's to come.

This Saturday, July 17, you won't want to miss the hottest and edgiest festival on the hill. Grab your tickets and head to SinFest! Be prepared to push the limits during this progressive experience of the Seven Deadly Sins and all that makes opera what it is. It's opera, cocktails and sin. And it's something you've never seen before.

Expect a one-of-a-kind experience that starts as soon as you arrive in Central. Before the curtain even goes up in the Opera House, the search for the perfect sin kicks off with our very first geocaching hunt. What in the world is "geocaching"??? Grab a GPS or download the GPS app on your phone and go in search of treasure that we have hidden in the vicinity of the Opera House. Arrive early (you’ll need an hour or so) and check in at the Teller House Box Office. You'll get a clue card for our geocaching with GPS coordinates of the sins. Hunt down all four locations, write down the finds and return the card to be eligible for all kinds of awesome prizes from places like the Wizard's Chest, Museo de las Americas the Museum of Contemporary Art and more. It's easy, painless and has great perks.

Then head to the opera.

4:00 pm - Opera House: (Please check in by at least 3:45 at the Teller House Box Office.) The stage is set for the evening by what Pat Pearce, our Artistic/General Director, refers to as "a gritty little piece" - Kurt Weill's The Seven Deadly Sins. This opera defies what you might think is typical opera - it's contemporary, SHORT (yes, 37 minutes) and provocative (a morality piece meant to push boundaries). You won't walk away humming any of the tunes, but you will take a second glance at today's moral compass. And you're right, this is not your grandma's opera.
The Seven Deadly Sins, photo by Mark Kiryluk
5:00 pm - Williams Stables: Fire. Dance. Poetry. Art. Ready to light the night on fire? Melinda Rivers is! She's our hot and sexy fire dancer ready to turn up the heat in Central City. You'll see Melinda up and down Eureka Street in her red fire outfit with Isis wings drawing SinFest goers to the next party stop with her fire breathing, fire fans and...Come on, I can't give it all away! Let's just say that Central hasn't been this hot since the Great Fire of 1874 and we've just gotten started. Click here to see how Melinda lights up the night!
Fire dancer Melinda Rivers
Once you've seen the The Seven Deadly Sins, you'll know that Ballet Nouveau Colorado has dancers who can not only wrap their feet up around their ears, but are also alluring and can brilliantly illustrate the drama of the opera through movement. BNC's Sarah Tallman, who dances the part of Anna II, will also head to SinFest to check out her colleagues bringing something unseen and edgy to the second floor of the Williams Stables.
Anna I and Anna II - The Seven Deadly Sins, photo by Mark Kiryluk
The Spoken Truth: Ever spend Sunday night at the Mercury Cafe in downtown Denver? Then you've probably heard National Slam Poetry Champion Ken Arkind and fellow poets tearing up the stage with their raw poetic artistry. Ken and company unabashedly deliver the spoken word with a truth that is gutsy and unapologetic. Following BNC's short dance performance, prepare to be challenged by the slam poets' insight into sin - not the Sunday school version. See Ken Arkind tearing it up on the mic.
Ken Arkind - National Slam Poetry Champion
An Eye on Sin: If you've ever had your eye behind a camera, you'll be blown away by the photography exhibit at SinFest curated by one of Denver's legendary photographers, Mark Sink. Co-founder of the MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), Mark has been a photographer of fine art, curator and teacher since 1978, working with and documenting the lives of legends like Andy Warhol. It's unlikely that you've truly seen the soul of a picture until you've looked through Mark's lens. Get your tickets to SinFest and you might be lucky enough to meet the artist himself at our intimate exhibit. You can view some of Mark's work on the Sink Gallery website.

Rachel by Mark Sink
6:30 pm - The Foundry: Everyone's favorite stop - GLUTTONY. The sin we just can't get enough of. An over-indulgence seems to heave us into SLOTH and get in the way of LUST. But SinFest's decadent bites from Kevin Taylor and a glass of the 7 Deadly Zins from the Michael David Winery will cause the ENVY of all. Sip on sin while listening to the tunes of my favorite bass player, Mike Fitzmaurice (of the well-known Irish band Colcannon), and his Exuberant Ensemble.
Mike Fitzmaurice of the Exuberant Ensemble
7:30 pm - Dostal Alley Brewpub and Casino: Yes, you know you want it... GREED. If you have been patiently itching to rob the one-armed-bandit, it's your chance to dance with Lady Luck at the Dostal Alley Brewpub and Casino, down the hill and around the corner from the Opera House. The only brewery in Gilpin County, Dostal Alley is famous for its award winning mountain brews and has created a special one just for SinFest, "The Eighth One". Don't miss the final stop of the night!

And it's all just $50.

Now, buy your tickets. Or you'll wonder why you didn't.

Any other questions? or email